- Joshua Eyer, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
- Hee Lee, PhD, Professor, Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Background: This project aimed to reduce opioid-related morbidity and mortality in northwest Alabama by improving opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery through efforts to construct a multisector community-wide consortium, engage in a comprehensive analysis of the impact and response to OUD/SUD, establish nonjudgmental pathways into care for SUD/OUD, implement sustainable whole-person care through the tele-ECHO model, and develop advanced data analytic predictive models of SUD/OUD in Alabama. Participants: Over 100 providers and community members in the rural counties of Fayette, Franklin, Lamar, Marion, Walker, and Winston Counties in Alabama Design: Mixed methods community-based design featuring questionnaire data and qualitative interviews and focus groups Data Collection: Consortium members helped identify individuals in project communities to complete opioid-related questionnaires and focus groups. Participants completed questionnaires online or on paper, and all interviews were conducted in person. Participants were compensated for their time. Results: Survey and focus group data indicated limited resources to address the opioid crisis in the project counties in northwest Alabama. The communities reported limited knowledge about opioids, opioid overdoses, opioid resources, and evidence-based treatments for opioids and behavioral health. Professionals also experienced isolation and limitations in knowledge and resources. Qualitatively, participant-identified prevention barriers were a lack of educational programs on opioids, of safety measures, and of access to Narcan for all community members (i.e., families, children, professional). Treatment barriers displayed the impact of rurality, highlighting limited access to services (i.e., financial, transportation) and facilities with coordinated care. Stigma from both people who use opioids and the community were described. Barriers to recovery included low resources and gaps in transition from treatment to recovery. Results led to actionable steps toward responding to the opioid crisis and related disparities.
- Describe quantitative results that characterize the impact of the opioid crisis in northwest Alabama.
- Discuss qualitative barriers to opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery in northwest Alabama.
- Report key suggested strategies to overcome these barriers and improve the opioid crisis in northwest Alabama.